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How Does Borderline Personality Disorder Affect Careers?

How Does Borderline Personality Disorder Affect Careers?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that can greatly impact someone’s life. BPD is a cluster B personality disorder, which means those that struggle with BPD deal with impulsive and often erratic behavior. People with BPD feel their emotions much more strongly than others, often referring to them as “big emotions.”

Some may mistake BPD for bipolar disorder because they share similar symptoms. However, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, whereas borderline personality disorder is not. This disorder makes it difficult for people to interact with others in a socially acceptable way, especially when someone tries to enter a career.

Why Borderline Personality Disorder Can Make It Hard to Pursue a Career

Many jobs today rely on a network of people working together to achieve a common goal. The phrase “many hands make for light work” is why many companies can function. To work together, people must know important social skills. Skills such as the ability to compromise, regulate emotions, and create rapport with others, are all vital to a work environment. People form what is known as a “working relationship” to help them work respectfully with those on their team.

BPD makes it difficult to form these working relationships for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is that BPD makes it hard for someone to compromise. Many people with BPD view things in a very black-and-white way when the world exists in shades of grey. This inability to compromise and view things in extremes can make a working relationship difficult. It makes it harder when these views can change quickly, which is very confusing to other people.

A person with this disorder also struggles with how they view themselves to other people. Someone with BPD may be afraid of abandonment and be vigilant to any perceived threats of such, real or not. They may act impulsively and recklessly in an attempt to prevent a feeling of emptiness or numbness, another symptom of this disorder. It’s also possible for someone with BPD to have feelings of dissociation, where they feel cut off from reality entirely. An individual with BPD may also have trouble regulating emotions, such as anger, and inappropriately expresses them.

These symptoms make it hard for people with BPD to form healthy working relationships. This is especially true with careers that involve a lot of delegation or have stressful, high pace environments. If a person cannot form working relationships with others or interact with them respectfully and appropriately, work cannot get done. Many people will outright refuse to work with others that do not treat them respectfully, which is fair and valid. However, there is hope for those with BPD who recognize they need and want help.

Treatment Options for Borderline Personality Disorder

There is a twofold reason why BPD is considered a difficult disorder to treat. The first is our current lack of understanding of what exactly causes this disorder. It’s why those with BPD should consider volunteering their experiences and time in an effort to further our understanding of this mental health disorder. If you have BPD, consider joining a clinical study or trial. Your experience and contribution may help save lives in the future.

The second reason is that many people with BPD don’t recognize that they have a problem or are too afraid to get help due to social stigma. That’s why many people with BPD go untreated. The mental healthcare field can’t learn how to treat a disorder when people with said disorder never ask for help. This is why it’s important to get help should you or someone you love experience the symptoms and signs of BPD.


Treatment options for BPD usually involve psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. Group therapy is also often used to help teach those with BPD skills to help them interact with others. Typically the therapies most often used to treat this disorder are dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

DBT was developed specifically for those with BPD. It teaches those with BPD to be mindful and aware of their current mental and physical state. DBT therapy teaches skills to help someone control intense emotions, recognize unhealthy and destructive behavior, and improve their relationships with others.

CBT helps people recognize destructive behaviors and beliefs in themselves that prevent them from forming healthy relationships. This type of therapy may also help people learn how to regulate their mood swings and reduce self-harming behavior.

It can take time for any positive results from therapy to appear. A person in treatment needs to stick with their treatment plan and not give up. If something doesn’t seem to be working, it’s possible to tweak treatments with the oversight of a licensed therapist. Some therapy takes adjustments over time to figure out the right treatment to fit each person.


Medication is rarely prescribed for someone with BPD, as we currently don’t know any medications that can specifically treat it. Sometimes medication is prescribed for co-occurring mental health disorders or their persistent symptoms as such, such as symptoms of anxiety or depression. Medication alone cannot “cure” BPD, but it can greatly reduce some symptoms. This way, a person may focus on therapy.

Achieving Success With a Personality Disorder

Anyone can have a successful and productive career; that includes people with BPD. BPD can make life hard, but it’s important to have hope. Our understanding of BPD grows by leaps and bounds every year, and new treatments are constantly being tested and researched. You can be successful in the things you do, career or not, as long as you have the support you need and deserve.

If you have or suspect you have BPD, call your local mental healthcare facility right away. Beginning and sticking with a treatment plan can help anyone learn the skills and get the support they need for success.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) affects how we interact with others and see ourselves. Since it is a personality disorder, it is considered challenging to treat due to gaps in our current understanding. Understanding, however, is currently increasing each day due to the work of dedicated researchers. Difficult does not mean impossible, and anything is possible with time and hard work. Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, helps those with difficult disorders find the treatment they need to succeed. Everyone is deserving of compassionate and professional care, regardless of their disorder. If you or someone you love is struggling with BPD, call (949) 647-4090 today to speak with our qualified staff.


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